MOULTRIE -- Though closing arguments were wrapped up by lunch Tuesday, the jury in the William Henry Daniels murder trial deliberated the rest of the day only to recess until Wednesday morning.
The jury of 10 women and two men had a half dozen questions since beginning deliberations at 1:30 p.m. By mid-afternoon, jurors asked for a replay of the microcassette audio recording of Daniels' common-law wife Lois Burrows' statement to the police. Superior Court Judge Harry Jay Altman II obliged them by holding the cassette player near the jury box, which he said worked out much better than the previous day's examination of the evidence.
Just after 5 p.m., the jurors expressed they were close to a decision and went back in to deliberate further, but by about 6 p.m., they decided to break until the next day -- much to the apparent angst of the victim's family.
Daniels, 42, also known as "Catfish," 1020 Fifth Ave. S.W., faces charges of malice murder, felony murder and aggravated assault for the June 30 stabbing death of Anthony Sharpe, 22, at a local nightclub, Second Time Around, 422 N. Main St.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation forensic pathologist Dr. Jacob Smith conducted the autopsy and told the jury the stab wound was 5 to 6 inches deep through the rib cage into the heart, but it was neat and clean. The angle of the wound was upward and would be consistent both with the defendant stabbing Sharpe from the front, as the prosecution contended, and with Sharpe falling onto the defendant, as the defense contended.
Daniels took the stand and maintained the stabbing was accidental. He testified that during an altercation, Sharpe had jumped up on a booth seat inside the club. Daniels said he pulled out his pocket knife (which he uses regularly at work) out of fear and held up his other hand telling Sharpe not to bother him, he said. Then Sharpe jumped on him causing both of them to fall out the door onto the concrete outside, he said. Daniels is a few inches shorter than the victim and is of a lighter build.
Assistant District Attorney Marsha Boniface maintained that the defendant's testimony conflicted with an earlier taped police interview where he made no mention of Sharpe jumping up on a booth seat. Daniels confirmed her assertion on the stand. The tape was never introduced into evidence.
In dramatic testimony Tuesday, witness Rodrick Reynolds (also known as Wayne White), 30, of Moultrie, demonstrated what he said he saw that night. Reynolds said after Daniels and Sharpe burst through the door, Daniels swiped at Sharpe three times as Sharpe scooped back his torso to avoid the knife. Then Daniels stabbed him in the chest with an upward thrust, he said, resulting in Sharpe falling on Daniels. According to Reynolds, Sharpe then pushed up off of the accused, stood and said, "I told you I didn't want to fight you."
Reynolds testimony on stand, however, was inconsistent with an earlier statement to police. Reynolds attributed the discrepancies to shock. He had taken the victim to the hospital, and the experience of seeing him die had been traumatic for him, he said.
Defense Attorney Tom Kirbo told the jury that the prosecution did not have enough evidence to satisfy reasonable doubt on any of the charges. From a long list of witnesses, only four eye witnesses were called and only Reynolds had seen Daniels swipe at and stab Sharpe. Two of the other witnesses said they saw the two fall through the open door of the club.
Investigators never recovered the pocket knife witnesses testified they saw Daniels pull out of his pocket before the physical fight began. Testimony from multiple witnesses including the defendant indicated that his uncle, Roscoe "Junebug" Daniels, took the knife from him and told him to flee, which he did and spent the night at his aunt's house. His aunt testified he told her than night that he had stabbed someone at the nightclub.
Daniels was arrested the next day in the same clothes he was wearing at the time of the incident. He said he had blood on the front of his shirt and his right
pants leg on the thigh area.
Investigators recovered two unmatched shoes from outside the club and discovered blood on the concrete just outside the door.
-- By Lori Glenn
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